Secret agent Jesler vH, ID 6152144, reporting for duty. Strange behaviour has been observed over here in Freiburg: all classes start exactly fifteen minutes late. Everyone seems to willingly go along with this delay - even the most punctual among the Germans. Several different inside sources have informed me that this is referred to as ‘Akademisches Viertel’, aka. the academic quarter.
I am still collecting answers as to why this mutual understanding exists. Most sources tell me that it exists to allow students to change rooms, buildings or even sides of the city in time for the next class to start. A plausible explanation, yet it doesn’t answer why in that case the official starting time has not been moved from, for example, 10:00 to 10:15.
Other sources don’t know.
Wikipedia tells me that it dates back to a time when phones and watches didn’t exist and church bells announced the time. When it struck, students had 15 minutes to get to their lecture. This explanation seems plausible - as all Wikipedia-based explanations do - though slightly outdated.
I, for one, suspect that it is a way to single out all foreign, exchange, and first-year students. And secret agents like myself.
Though I must say that I'm amused as well: even in their unpunctuality, most Germans manage to be very punctual.
Jesler van Houdt